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Guidelines for businesses and community organisations

From noon on 15 May 2020, businesses such as art galleries or libraries, community organisations and places of religious worship that were directed to close will be able to reopen.

However, the Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed further requirements on the reopening of these businesses, community organisations and places of worship (a business).

These restrictions are specified in CHO Directions No 30 – Directions to Close Certain Business, Places, Activities and Services and Directions for Safety Measures at Reopened Businesses, Places, Activities and Services (the Directions).

CHO Directions and mandatory requirements

Businesses must comply with the requirements specified in the Directions.

Under the Directions, a business must:

  • complete and submit to the Department of Health a COVID-19 safety plan checklist before reopening and
  • place markings on the floor of its premises where participants may queue (for example, at the entrance, bathrooms or service counter) before reopening and
  • provide hand sanitiser to participants unless handwashing facilities are available.

The CHO’s directions are laws and it is an offence to contravene a direction of the CHO.

It is important that you keep informed about the Directions of the CHO and any requirements or restrictions which relate to your type of business.

In addition to the mandatory requirements under the Directions, the following information may be helpful to assist businesses in reopening.

How coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread from person-to-person through close contact and droplets including:

  • direct contact with infected persons
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching contaminated objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables), and then touching your mouth or face.

The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect your business is through maintaining good hygiene practices and following physical distancing principles.

Things you should do

Before reopening, you should review all aspects of the business that may increase the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.

This will allow you to apply practical measures to reduce risk of infection between staff, volunteers or to the general public.

Two hour time limit

A business should limit the time a customer remains at the business to 2 hours per visit.

This is intended to assist with contact tracing in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Hygiene practices

The manager of a business should provide training to staff and volunteers on hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid spread of the virus.

Staff, volunteers and participants should:

  • Wash your hands frequently after going to the bathroom, after handling money, before and after eating and after touching your face or hair.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Use a hand sanitiser at the beginning of an activity or wash hands with soap and water.
  • Any staff member or volunteer with a suspected communicable disease (such as coughing, sneezing, flu-like symptoms) should be excluded from the workplace.

Staff information

Staff members and volunteers should not attend work if they are unwell. Managers should advise staff members and volunteers to go home if the staff member or volunteer is unwell.

For religious services, consideration should be given to minimising any risks associated with religious rituals such as the sharing of drinking vessels, shaking of hands during the sign of peace etc.

Customers/ attendees with a suspected communicable disease (such as coughing, sneezing, flu-like symptoms) should be advised not to attend activities or religious services.

Wearing gloves

Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitiser will offer more protection against coronavirus (COVID-19) than wearing gloves.

If you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear gloves other than during your normal cleaning procedures.

It is important to change gloves regularly between activities and wash hands thoroughly between glove changing to prevent contamination from used gloves onto the fresh gloves.

Wearing masks

If you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear a protective mask. People should practise good hygiene and physical distancing in their workplace.

Physical distancing

A business should:

  • During activities or religious services – arrange participants from different household groups to be 1.5 metres apart from another group.
  • Prevent participants from crowding together at the beginning or at the end of activities or religious services.
  • Arrange seating so participants of different groups are not seated face-to-face.
  • Manage the entry and exit points of the business so that participants are not queuing at these points.
  • Display, at the entrance to the business, the number of participants that may be inside the business in order to maintain physical distancing.
  • Place signage around the business to remind staff, volunteers and participants to maintain hygiene practices and to go home if the participant or staff member is feeling unwell.
  • Place signage around the business to discourage participants crowding together in any one area of the business.
  • Encourage participants to remain 1.5 metres apart when moving through the business.
  • If there are times where participants need to be closer than 1.5 metres apart, ensure the time spent in close contact is minimised with particular focus on minimising face-to-face close contact, which should be less than 15 minutes face to face.

Cleaning and disinfecting

During the pandemic, extra cleaning should be carried out throughout the business. You should keep your place of business clean and sanitised by taking the following measures:

  • Maintain thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities and equipment.
  • Clean shared surfaces more frequently, at least twice a day. This could include door handles, bathrooms, service counters, handrails, armrests, and equipment.
  • If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus.
  • Increase cleaning regimes for all other areas within the business. Consider whether aspects of the Australian Government cleaning advice will add anything to your cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Cleaning products

Use a disinfectant which the manufacturer claims can kill viruses. Chlorine-based (bleach) disinfectants are one product which is suitable. Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and usage.

Bleach solutions should be made fresh daily as they become less effective over time.

The recommended concentration of available chlorine for routine disinfection of cleaned surfaces is 1000ppm as this concentration has been shown to be effective against the majority of microbial pathogens.

Physical barriers

In certain situations, a physical barrier such as widening the counter can be used to help maintain physical distance between people.

Opaque or clear screen dividers of a suitable material that can be easily cleaned and disinfected can be used to create separation between people. These barriers should be appropriately designed and installed and be a size that creates protection for the person, especially around the face area.

Rubbish disposal

The risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) when handling waste is low. Normal collection of waste for households, retail and other businesses continues.

When managing waste, the following hygiene practices should be followed:

  • Disposable gloves, masks, and other items should be placed in a rubbish bag before disposing of them with other domestic waste.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and running water or rubbed with hand sanitiser immediately after handling these items.

Payments

Promote cashless payments. However, if cash is exchanged, hands should be washed with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser after handling money.

Communication

It is important to communicate your coronavirus (COVID-19) safety steps with customers/ attendees.

Provide updates on social media or via emails and provide signage and information at venues. Encourage all your staff, volunteers and customers/ attendees to follow these guidelines in their daily life to keep our community safe.

More information

Contact Environmental Health on 1800 095 646.

Get information for workplaces and coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Safe Work Australia website.